MERVYN LEROY: Take One by Mervyn & Dick Kleiner LeRoy


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Mervyn LeRoy weathered a broken home and the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 before striking out on the vaudeville circuit and a subsequent final destination in Hollywood. His rise in the Famous Players-Lasky studio -- from the wardrobe department (he couldn't get rid of the smell of mothballs) to a job in the lab (his hands almost dyed, purple that is) to assistant cameraman (lugging around a monstrosity of a camera) and then director -- might leave a lesser Horatio Alger breathless. Known as ""The Boy Wonder,"" this directorial kingpin was an indefatigable worker who was to crank out seventy-five films (among them: Little Caesar, Tugboat Annie, I Am A Fugitive from a Chain Gang, They Won't Forget (did they?) and Random Harvest) while adhering to his belief that a motion picture should entertain by ""telling a comprehensible story with warmth and feeling, in a straightforward and simple manner."" A veteran of thirty-five years in the Big Holly, where he produced The Wizard of Oz and pocketed an Oscar for The House I Live In, LeRoy bemoans the decline of the big studios and the current celluloid emphasis on none other than sex and violence. Take One splices together highlights and anecdotes (more jestless than beau) of the author's distinguished career. The story is made of the stuff dreams are made of, yet a second take might have helped.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1974
Publisher: Hawthorn